UC Davis officials are investigating a purported e-mail that circulated a class at the School of Veterinary Medicine over the leave of a pregnant student.
After a student had to miss class to give birth, a professor allegedly sent out a poll on what grade he should give the new mother.
The poll first came to light in a post on the website scienceblogs.com. The site’s author purportedly obtained the poll through one of the blog’s readers, a friend of a junior veterinary medicine student at UC Davis.
The professor in question is Edward Feldman, the chair of the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Feldman didn’t respond to The Aggie’s requests for comment.
Pat Bailey of the UC Davis News Service said that because the incident involves a veterinary student and faculty member, the school and campus administration cannot provide any additional information until the review is completed.
Chancellor Linda Katehi responded to concerns with a statement on Jan. 13, a day after the poll was made public by the blog.
“I want to assure you that I take very seriously any allegations that a student’s welfare, dignity or academic rights have in any way been compromised,” Katehi said in the statement. “And as a woman, who has experienced firsthand the challenges of melding academic and family life and has experienced discrimination, I am especially sensitive to this issue.
“I am committed to taking swift and appropriate action, should it be warranted, for any finding of faculty misconduct,” she added later.
The poll gave respondents six options about what grade the student should receive, ranging from an automatic “A,” “B” or “C” grade to allowing the student to have one final exam at the end of the quarter.
“One of our classmates recently gave birth and will be out of class for an unknown period of time. This means she will undoubtedly miss one, or more, or all quizzes in VMD 444. Dr. Feldman is not sure how to handle this and has requested the class give input and vote,” the e-mail containing the poll stated.
According to the Winter 2011 catalog, Feldman is listed as the instructor for Veterinary Medicine 444, clinical endocrinology.
The attendance policy of the School of Veterinary Medicine allows for a student to miss class for emergencies, excused activities such as science meetings, and if an extended period of time up to one year is needed, through the Planned Educational Leave Program.
Katehi said that UC Davis customarily works to help pregnant students catch up on schoolwork or arrange extended leave. The school also provides a lactation room so that students with infants can continue breastfeeding their babies.
CECILIO PADILLA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.